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Relentless. That's the best word to use to describe winter this year. It was relatively mild during the heart of winter, when it's supposed to be fierce. Now it's cold, and in a big way, when it's supposed to be transitioning to spring. We are currently running between five and eight degrees below average for the month temperature-wise, depending on which local official reporting station you use. That's significant. Back in February when I forecasted March to come in cold and brutal I honestly didn't expect it to last the entire month, but obviously it has. I know a family that runs a huge nursery operation and they sell flowers and plants to chain stores such as Lowe's. I was talking to one of them on Sunday and he said the weather this year is killing them.
What about April? We're about to turn that corner this weekend and everybody is hoping that this cold is going to finally go away as the calendar changes. The good news is yes I think we're looking at warmer weather in April. The bad news is we will likely see a massive increase in thunderstorm activity to go along with it.
The Arctic Oscillation that you've heard me speak of went strongly negative in March. Actually, it was the lowest I have ever seen it on the index last weekend. When you get a strongly negative AO and a negative NAO also, you usually see a huge trough in the eastern U.S. and that's exactly what we've seen. Cold air funneling into the Ohio Valley from Canada ... for weeks on end. The computer models are predicting that the AO and NAO will both start to move toward the neutral point on the scale going into April. Also, it appears that the blocking in place in eastern Canada will finally break up. This should allow the mean jet flow to finally retreat northward and the overall weather pattern will change. That means that normal temperatures for this time of year will finally been seen here in Kentucky. I look for April to return to 50s and 60s for high temperatures on most days. The winter coats may still get used early in the morning, where tempertures around freezing are still going to linger, but at least we're going to be headed in the right direction.
The bad news is that we've had a LOT of precipitation in recent weeks and the ground water levels are high. So there is a lot of available moisture to build clouds which in turn build storms. Also, the storm track across the south looks to continue. I think we are in for an active period of thunderstorms in April. There will likely be a lot of damage both here and across the southern U.S. as a whole from this activity. Flooding issues may also arise due to the already high ground water levels. It's going to be a wild April in this part of the nation. I, for one, will just be happy to see T-shirt weather finally make it here.